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Newry couple find love through volunteering

On 5th December people around the world will celebrate International Volunteer Day (IVD) with a range of volunteer involving activities.

It’s a Love thing: Newry & Mourne residents, Conor Keenan and Raquel Rodriques Keenan celebrate International Volunteer Day

IVD 2014 is a global celebration honouring people’s participation in making a change at all levels – locally, nationally and globally.

Volunteer Now had another reason to celebrate – one member of staff has international volunteering to thank for finding love and bringing her from her home in Portugal to Northern Ireland.

Having graduated as a journalist Raquel worked for a daily newspaper in Portugal before deciding to take a year out to volunteer in Luxembourg.

Raquel says, “This was a wonderful year when I made friends for life, learned about other countries and cultures, tried different food but above all I met Conor from Northern Ireland, another volunteer, who is now my husband!”

When their placements finished they returned home, Raquel to Portugal and Conor to his home in Warrenpoint. They kept in touch and visited each other before realising their relationship was serious. Raquel then decided to take the plunge and with the support of Conor, make the move to Northern Ireland.

Raquel continues, “The first year I spent waitressing but hated it so I decided to leave and start volunteering as a way of getting experience in the community sector. This experience led me to obtaining an internship with Volunteer Now and soon after I was successful in securing a job with them.

“I can safely say that volunteering has changed my life for the better! I now have two homes and two families, a new outlook in life that is more positive and resilient, a circle of friends across the world and I have found love, all by simply taking the first step to volunteering.”

Conor Keenan, Raquel’s husband adds, “During my studies at Queens I developed a passion for travel and a curiosity about Europe. I saw that Bryson European Voluntary Service (EVS) were recruiting volunteers so I applied and was ‘fortuitously’ was sent to Luxembourg.”

“This year in a different environment allowed me to think about the future and made me realise I didn’t want to work in the IT sector. My career did a 360 degree turn and I used my experience with EVS to get into the culture and heritage sector when I returned.

“My personal life too took a turn for the unexpected when I fell in love with one of my fellow volunteers. Raquel was silly enough to come here to see what Ireland was like and we are going strong almost 7 years later, married with a house, a lovely wee dog, and a great gratitude for our decision to volunteer internationally which was the best decision we ever made.”

For anyone who is interested in hearing more about international volunteering or volunteering locally, go to and have a look at the range of activities available.

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Posted by on Dec 4 2014. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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